Welcome to Our Remodeling Tips Newsletter Page where we feature articles from our newsletter that range from news about our company to helpful tips about remodeling and home maintenance. We hope you enjoy the articles and welcome your input.
Whether driving through Charlotte’s in-town Myers Park, Eastover and Foxcroft or the slightly more suburban Carmel and Quail Hollow neighborhoods, you cannot help but notice the number of new homes being constructed where older homes once stood. While there are certainly homes that all could agree are a blight on the neighborhood, how does a homeowner decide whether to improve their home, replace it or move? How much should someone invest in their home through remodeling or adding on? When does it make sense to reduce a home to splinters and carry it to the local landfill? As remodeling specialists who are also engaged in the construction of custom homes, we receive regular requests by both architects and homeowners to answer the questions that will determine the ultimate destiny of the residence.
Every home is unique. The values and personal needs of each homeowner are equally diverse. With so many variables, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are, however, a variety of conditions that, when looked upon as a whole, lead us to offer recommendations that will be in the property Owner’s best interest.
Here are few questions that you need to be able to answer before undertaking any project. Can you answer these?
Do you plan to stay in your home long-term or is a move to another immanent? Here is a general rule of thumb. Unless renovating for resale, you need to plan staying in your home for at least five years after undergoing a major home renovation to regain your investment and make the hassle worthwhile.
How much can be safely invested in the neighborhood? You need to have an accurate sense of comparable home values by working with your Realtor or seeking information from Mecklenburg County’s public records to determine your maximum financial investment.
What are your family’s personal needs and space requirements? Take some time to determine these needs and separate “Critical” improvements from those that would be part of a “Wish List”.
Craftsmen Construction strongly advocates the Architect’s role in designing your dream home or remodel, but, as a first step, schedule a Craftsmen contractor walk-through to determine your project’s feasibility prior to investing in drawings. With the answers to the above questions, Craftsmen can help you determine the feasibility of renovating, adding-on or even tearing down.
Floor plan, Room Sizes and Ceiling Heights: How is the existing layout? Does it allow proper circulation? Is it conducive to adding potential square footage? Are the existing rooms proportionately sized to work with an addition or will they be out of scale and inadequate? Are your ceilings high enough to work with or will they be a constant reminder of the old house.
Guideline: Generally speaking, changes to existing square footage offer the lowest rate of return on your investment dollar compared to added, heated square footage. Why? There is a built-in investment in existing space from the original home purchase. Remodeling costs are added to this initial cost to create the real per square foot price.
Mechanical and Cosmetic Maintenance. While it is exciting to contemplate the new addition, understanding the condition and limitations of the existing mechanics will help identify the need for further expense in advance. We will review the conditions of the three main mechanical systems: plumbing, electrical and heating and air-conditioning. In addition, we’ll look at other potential expense items such as: Do the hardwoods need refinishing, railings changed, bathrooms remodeled, wall cracks repaired, rooms painted, window sash replaced, new carpeting, tile replaced and on and on……
Buying a home is typically the biggest purchase you will ever make but, the decision to undergo a major remodel or renovation involves probably the second biggest purchase and involve far more of your time and effort. Work with a company that you KNOW you can trust with a proven track record and impeccable credentials. Your home is hoping for Craftsmen….Listen to your Home.
Walking around Michael and Cindy’s recently-built home, one could only feel the frustration as they pointed out problems. The, what should have been, happy homeowners were already facing the headaches and inconvenience of making repairs. Water had already begun rotting dormer siding, fascia boards and window brick mouldings. An investigation of the crawlspace uncovered water intrusion which, they correctly understood, might lead to even bigger problems with mold. The water spots on the finished wood ceiling below the covered stone patio only made matters worse.
Their experience, unfortunately, is not as uncommon as one might expect. New home builders and even remodelers, faced with a competitive marketplace from rising material and labor costs, are constantly searching for ways to save money and, far too often, make compromising decisions that effect a home’s long-term quality and value. There are some ways that you can protect your investment:
Exterior Siding and Trim Materials – Insist that your builder use either low or no-maintenance materials to take advantage of their long-term benefits. Now, more than ever, builders have a wide array of maintenance-friendly products that meet the architectural design requirements of even the finest neighborhoods. Architecturally-correct aluminum roof columns, balustrade and newel posts, polymer-based, synthetic columns, authentic-looking, vinyl cedar shake panels, rigid and flexible synthetic mouldings and even cellular PVC exterior trim stock are available in all the typical traditional trim sizes. Not only are they shaped just like real wood, they cut, nail and paint like wood. Yet, they are more uniform, hold paint better and, most importantly, do not rot.
Waterproofing – While it is cheap and easy to have a laborer slap a thin coat of damp-proofing on your foundation or elevated patio surface, there is no substitute for a professionally-applied, sprayed on waterproofing system combined with (when waterproofing a foundation) perforated drain-piping and clean stone backfill covered with a filtering fabric to assure proper long-term operation. Proper waterproofing of elevated patios that have finished spaces below is critical since it is typically expensive to make repairs later.
Every home is unique. The land that it sits on, its grade and accompanying conditions -different. Builders should be educated to the variations to provide proper advice and recommendations. Although one home may be similar to another, it may require a very different set of solutions.
Craftsmen Construction’s 55 years of business have gifted us with a clear advantage – experience. We have seen the “fly-by-night” and poorly run companies come and go, watched as new and under-tested materials have been installed and fail miserably. Through hard work, we have stayed ahead of the educational curve to assure that when you call we are best ready to service your home’s needs. Could you be in better hands? Your Home Is Hoping For Craftsmen…Listen to Your Home.
Construction Consultants Skilled in the Art of Remodeling
As construction consultants, we evaluate the life-issues driving you towards remodeling, analyze the current floor plan of your home and assist in determining cost-effective solutions.
- We understand the proper sequence of events for every type of construction project.
- We bring together decades of experience that can then focus on a problem and determine the appropriate solution.
- We have seen every type of residential construction and can solve most problems in a multitude of ways…finding the best for your specific situation.
Craftsmen Advantage # 1
Maximizing your Design Investment. From concept to completion and each step in between, Craftsmen is involved in making sure that your project is both designed and implemented in the most cost-effective manner possible. For instance, thousands of design dollars can be spent on beautiful architectural drawings that are inconsistent with the homeowner’s budget. A better first step would be to meet with the contractor first and together determine a rough scope of work along with preliminary costs so that your design dollars are used effectively.
Craftsmen Advantage # 2
Value-Engineering to Maximize your Project’s Investment Potential. Craftsmen’s unsurpassed wealth of structural, technical, budgetary and design insight coupled with our close working relationships with many of the area’s best residential architects, interior designers and landscape architects area can only help you assemble the perfect design / build team that fully coordinates both building and land design - maximizing your investment.
Craftsmen Advantage # 3
Craftsmen’s President David Brown, personally oversees the continuing education of Craftsmen’s Field, Office and Project Development Staff to assure that 56 years of values established by David’s father, Mr. Boyce Brown, are carried forward and applied into each and every project.
Craftsmen’s Staff sets us apart from the rest……a team of specialists constructing custom homes, kitchens, baths, additions and whole house remodels. Let our award-winning experience help you with your next project.
The ceiling is the most overlooked surface of any room and it offers hidden opportunities to the creative designer and homeowner. Ceiling design often takes a back seat to the priorities set on floor and wall finishes but through the application of various trim elements that can include moldings, boxed and rough-sawn beams and even paneling, this otherwise neglected area can become stunning and even a focal-point. Whether simple or grand, the possibilities are considerable and should be investigated whenever undertaking a remodeling project.
The multiple trim elements that make up a Coffered ceiling creates a series of grid-like compartments that can truly enhance any ceiling, especially when dealing with ceiling heights of 10 feet or more. The number of molding layers used can vary greatly based upon the size, shape and complexity of other moldings found throughout the home. The depth and width of a coffered beam depends upon the overall ceiling height as the number of compartments depends upon the room width and length. Recessed can lights and speakers can often be integrated into the beams or set into the ceiling portions in a way so that they are balanced. Beautiful hardwood materials, such as Mahogany and Cherry which can be stained, or less costly softer species such as Poplar and White Pine can be used with dramatic results. While coffered ceilings are found in dramatic two-story family rooms and entry foyer’s, they are becoming increasingly popular in many Charlotte kitchens, and can be adapted to a more casual style.
While Multi-layered Moldings have become a rarity, the addition of two and even three layers to your crown moldings can really enhance a space. A heavy trim application around your ceiling can help give you a sense of a lowered ceiling height giving it a more intimate feel.
Rough-sawn or distressed Beams can add a rustic feel to a modern kitchen or family room. While simple boxed beams can do wonders to a ceiling, coming up with the right materials, when looking for Rough-hewn lumber, can be quite a challenge. All of our clients are different and therefore has a unique vision for the room in which these beams will be placed. It can be a challenge to find just the right timbers and then get someone samples for their review and approval. We have found some great resources in our various hunting expeditions for salvaged timbers. I purchased several beams some years back that went into a guest house ceiling. The beams came out of a building that had been constructed almost 100 years ago and through curiosity counted the rings to determine their age…..just over 200. It’s a bit mind-boggling imaging them as saplings 300 years ago.
Another option is to Tray Ceilings, which gets its name from its resemblance to an inverted tray. A tray ceiling usually has a border of flat ceiling extending out anywhere between six inches to three feet before the tray starts it’s rise. The walls of the tray can be angled or vertical with possible “steps” to the higher ceiling level. Cove ceilings are similar to tray ceilings, but have rounded corners. Decorative hardwood moldings can be applied at the base of each step. Applied moldings in tray ceilings can conceal indirect lighting. To gain additional ceiling height using a tray or cove ceiling, you must have open attic space above. If you have a ceiling that is too high and want to make the room cozier, framing down a tray ceiling might be the best solution.
There are so many different avenues to take – all you need is a little imagination.
As a contractor who specializes in whole home remodeling and renovations, Craftsmen Construction is called on to recommend heating and air-conditioning systems that complement the fine projects of which we are a part. The equipment and ductwork found in most older homes is far less energy efficient and usually have fixed, hard ductwork that may have never been cleaned and can literally be thickly coated with every kind of indoor home pollutant imaginable.
Heating and air-conditioning manufacturers in the past several years, particularly American Standard / Trane, have come a long way in improving their equipment to emphasize comfort and efficiency. Building code changes have also played an important role in driving a few of the more recent upgrades.
The 2008 Building Code requirement shifting to R-8 ductwork has grabbed our attention for several reasons. Before I get ahead of myself, R value refers to a measure of the heat conductivity of material. The higher the R value, the better the material serves as insulation from heat transfer. R value generally applies to insulating materials, roofs, exterior walls, and windows and doors.
At issue is the transition from R-6 to R-8. Of course, increased costs driven by code changes are mostly difficult to swallow, but the advantages of R-8 vs. R-6 ductwork are significant. While the ductwork, by some estimates, is approximately thirty percent (30%) higher at the point of installation, the long term cost savings should be worth it due to its increasing overall energy efficiency by almost twenty percent (20%).
One challenge facing the installers of R-8 duct comes from its increased size relative its predecessor and effects the construction planning process. Available space is much more of a consideration when laying out the two inch wider duct runs especially when between floor sections are considered.
Improved Equipment Efficiency
Newly ramped-up heating efficiencies have already being implemented. While 80% efficient heating systems are pretty much the norm, new technology is allowing us to recommend 95% efficient American Standard / Trane gas systems. We see a real benefit for first floor system replacements, where heating efficiency can be taken advantage of by other floor levels as hot air rises to assist those systems.
New control boards also allow the monitoring of the silicon nitride hot surface igniters and allow the equipment to remember how long it took to ignite the burners under different conditions to minimize energy usage during gas system start-up.
Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV’s)
These systems have become much more common over the last few years, especially with the advent of sealed crawlspaces, tighter building envelopes and the increased sensitivity to indoor air quality. With these systems, outside fresh air is introduced and exchanged for old, stale indoor air. Through a heat exchanger, the system pre-dehumidifies the air, during humid Summer months, making the main cooling system more efficient. This process also transfers most of the heat or cold from the old inside air to the new fresh air being brought inside.
The latest touch-screen heating and cooling controls have what is called "Intelligent Adaptive Memory". The thermostat senses the temperature and humidity patterns and determines the most efficient mode of operation to make the home as comfortable as possible. When used in conjunction with a variable speed system, the thermostat may call for low-speed operation but for the system to run longer thus pulling more humidity out of the air making the home more comfortable.
The AccuClean Air Cleaner has been improved to a 99.98% efficiency and is able to catch pollutants down to .1 micron in size. Note that 13,000 .1 micron-sized particles are approximately equivalent to the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Control From A Distance
Modules are now available where you can tap into your heating and cooling system and make long-distance adjustments from either your phone or computer via the internet.
Craftsmen’s knowledge of construction technology goes far beyond the everyday. Let us help you make the decisions that will best suit the needs of your home by calling us when planning your next remodeling project.
We at Craftsmen Construction are always endeavoring to be sure we are providing you with the very best service possible, at every stage of the renovation, addition or custom home that we build. Recently, we have subscribed to a professional building-trades survey service, and many of you have been contacted by Guild Quality and have responded to their survey.
The results are overwhelmingly positive, thanks to your responses.
*100% of our customers would recommend Craftsmen to a friend or family member.
The industry average is 60%.
*80.8% of indicated that the overall experience was easier than expected.
*100% satisfaction ratings based upon:
- Expertise used to build the project.
- Organization and professional approach
- Use of new technologies and innovative techniques.
- Keeping costs on budget.
- Clean Work Site.
The response rate to the survey was 89% of our customers for whom we worked over the last year.
We appreciate the positive feedback that encourages us to continue providing the best remodeling and custom home building services possible.
We are often asked to include a basement under a new addition. Sometimes this is a fairly simple task if the lot slopes right , the soil is good, equipment access is easy, and the weather is cooperative. Of course this is often not the case, so every addition with a basement will be different. We recommend spending the money to have soil samples taken and analyzed to determine everything from the water table level to the bearing capacity of the soil. This information will enable the structural engineer to properly size the concrete footer, and keep poor soil from stopping the project. Once the plans are drawn, then the best game plan must be turned into a workable schedule.
After all work is scheduled, it is time to start the preliminary demolition of the existing house. This can include anything from removing the brick veneer and old chimneys to the complete demolition of an entire wing of the existing house. Depending on how the new basement will line up with the old house, it may be necessary to support the existing house on temporary steel I-beams. After the preliminary site work, we prefer to have the surveyor pin the excavation area. Then we can dig, after deciding what to do with the extra dirt. If good weather holds, the bottom of the hole is soon leveled with a laser level and an excavator. In most cases, the disturbed soil in the floor area of the basement will need to mechanically compacted.
We prefer a concrete basement footer and wall system for its superior strength and speed of installation. After our surveyors return to pin the footing locations the footers are formed and laser leveled. Steel rebar reinforcement is then added, and the footings are poured right on the bottom of the leveled basement excavation.
After the forms are stripped, the basement wall steel reinforcing is tied in place. Then steel forms are set on both sides of the walls and filled with concrete. After the concrete sets up the forms are removed and you have solid walls. The exterior of the new walls should be waterproofed with an applied waterproof membrane covered with a protection/drain board. A French drain system, consisting of perforated pipe and washed gravel covered with filter fabric should be installed around the entire wall and either run into a sump pump or sloped downhill to daylight. In some cases, where ground water intrusion may be a factor, it is wise to install a second French drain system under the basement slab.
A minimum of 4" of gravel will be added before the future slab is treated for termites. The floor area is covered with 6 mil. polyethylene as a vapor barrier. A reinforcing wire mesh is laid over the poly before the final 4" inch concrete slab is poured and finished. After the first floor above is framed, it will be time to backfill around the new basement, but you can’t backfill completely because …, well that is another chapter of this story.
As your can see, a lot of planning and hard work go into building a basement. Craftsmen Construction is dedicated to performing the hard work it takes to construct the addition of your dreams, with or without a basement.
Continuing to set new standards of professionalism, 108 remodeling companies from 35 states were honored at the 7th annual Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence on June 9th. The awards, sponsored by Lowe’s companies and Professional Remodeler Magazine, were presented at the Southern Building Show in Charlotte, N.C.
Judged by the staff of the Southern Living Magazine, Sunset Magazine, and Homestyles.com, the winners were selected from over 600 entries in over 30 categories covering all aspects of remodeling. The entries were judged on overall design, the creative use of space and materials, and the degree to which the project enhanced the original structure.
This year the special award for room additions over $ 100,000 went to Craftsmen Construction Co., Inc. of Charlotte, N.C. “It is unusual to win a Chrysalis Award on their first attempt, and this says a lot for Craftsmen Construction,” says Ken Kanlane, Awards Director.
The Chrysalis Awards program begun in 1994, consists of 5 regional remodeling competitions, and recognizes quality work in all types of projects and price ranges in the South, Southwest, West, Midwest and Northeast.
“By showcasing the “best of the best” the Chrysalis Awards help increase quality and professionalism throughout the industry,” say Lowe’s Vice-President Mike Brown.
The purpose of the renovation was to increase the family living spaces of the den, kitchen and breakfast room and have them be open to each other. The renovation was designed for a large family and their family gatherings. They desired a large open space to enhance their family living. The result was the creation of the “life-style triangle”, family cooking, family dining and family living area.
The solution to this expansion resulted in a covered patio below for a shady area for the pool and a large sunroom/breakfast room above. The addition was enhanced by the roof detail of a gable and a shed, allowing for a large arched window and exciting interior ceiling lines. The exterior load-bearing wall was removed and the existing second floor load was supported by the installation of two steel I-beams which were installed with a crane. The wall between the original kitchen and den was also removed. This created a large open family area including the kitchen, den and new addition. The spaces were defined by the large island, breakfast bar and interior columns.
The interior finishes were selected to maintain the traditional style of the home, rich cherry cabinets and granite countertops. The cherry cabinets were continued into the den area to create a focal point around the fireplace and media center. Also they were designed for a new wet bar and home management center.
The kitchen design was an optimum working kitchen with areas for food prep, cooking, serving and clean up. Gracious storage for food, dishes and equipment was provided. The original house was a basic four-square, sited on a sloping lot with a lower level
and a swimming pool in the rear yard. Expanding the space on the main floor would result in a lower level expansion as well.
Special recognition also goes to Charlotte In-Vironments for designing this project with a fabulous working kitchen, a sunroom/breakfast room with a view, a spacious den/media room all open to each other for family living and gracious entertaining. Finally, the exterior design enhanced the rear elevation for a beautiful view from the swimming pool.
The rains of 2003 will last in the memories of Charlotteans for years to come. On the heels of a four year drought, the ground is not only replenished but saturated causing the ground water to flow at much higher levels than in previous years. When a home’s foundation is in this water’s path, it becomes a collecting pool unless protective provisions have already been made. As a result, we have been receiving calls throughout the Spring and Summer from frustrated homeowners who are now experiencing wet crawl spaces and basements.
Craftsmen regularly evaluates crawl space conditions.
Our advantage, as a general contractor that specializes in residential remodeling, is that we are looking at your crawl space or basement in the context of its entire environment – not just one or two specialties that may or may not be needed.
Proper crawl space control is maintained through a thorough review of your foundation drainage system, heating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) and ventilation.
The foundation drainage system is the primary water preventative or removal method. If the home is new, this is usually taken care of by an exterior French drain system accompanied by a properly installed waterproofing membrane. As the water hits the membrane, it drops down and into the piping where it is then carried away from the foundation by gravity or by pump. Older homes, however, do not have the benefit of such a system and, though it can be installed, our experience has proven that this is a very expensive and often ineffective solution to the problem. Though water may attack the foundation walls, it will, in many circumstances, travel under the foundation and enter the crawl space from the inside. An interior French drain system, connected to a sump pit, is a very cost-effective way of dealing with these through-the-wall and ground water intrusions. A trench is dug along the edge of the foundation in the affected area allowing the water to flow directly into and away through the perforated piping.
A review of the current HVAC system(s) is also made.
We investigate uninsulated air conditioning ducts, the condition of existing air ducts (looking for signs that air is being sucked into the house from the crawl space), missing or incorrectly installed filter doors and broken or improperly run dryer vent piping that can introduce a great deal of moisture into the crawl space. Heavy sweating from old and uninsulated HVAC ducts can also cause pools of standing water. All of these and any other potential water and moisture sources must be investigated prior to considering additional measures.
Finally, we determine the adequacy of the ventilation available to the crawl space.
We investigate: The amount of space between the floor system and crawl space surface – the taller the better; the number of foundation vents available and the effectiveness of these vents. Landscaping, for instance, can greatly restrict the amount of air that otherwise effective foundation vents can allow. We look for additions such as decks and patios that may have been built over former vent locations with no regard to their effect on crawl space ventilation. We provide: State-of-the-art, computer controlled foundation ventilation systems that monitor the relative humidity in the crawl space evaluating when the air needs to be circulated and exchanged.
Craftsmen provides solutions that are right for your unique situation.
A high level of moisture in a crawl space can have profound effects on a wood floor system by introducing dry rot. The home’s foundation can be compromised by moist or water saturated soil. Don’t let water and moisture problems surprise you. Let us assist you by evaluating the conditions in your crawl space and in making the appropriate recommendations for your home. Please call David Brown or Frank Kaczmarski to schedule a home visit 704-537-7337.
“Assimilating the art of landscape architecture and the construction of fine craftsmen to produce gardens of serenity and sanctuary.”
Did you know that Craftsmen Construction not only renovates and remodels existing homes and constructs new homes, but we offer full landscaping design and construction services to meet even the most discriminating tastes. Our integrated landscape management services can free you from the inefficiencies and loss of managerial control that comes from the use of multiple contractors, designers and a myriad of subcontractors.
Craftsmen can coordinate the design, planning and implementation of all of your landscape needs including:
- Storm drainage
- Landscape lighting
- Brick, stone, plain or stamped concrete walkways, patios and terraces
- Cobblestone unit paving
- Landscape plantings
- Decks, Trellis’s, Pool Cabanas
- Concrete, Cobblestone and Asphalt driveways integrating designs and borders
Whether you are considering making major or even minor changes to your home’s landscape, call Craftsmen Construction first for an on site consultation.
For years, Craftsmen has coordinated the design and installation of state-of-the-art audio / video services for our clients. Most people just have no idea how far we can go in this arena.
- Home Theater
- Multi-room Audio
- Structured Wiring
- High-Definition TV
- DSS / Satellite
- Phone Systems
- Local Area Networks
- Video Surveillance
When planning your next remodeling project, know that we can assist you with the design and integration of these services.
REMODELING magazine, the number-one magazine in the remodeling market, has named Craftsmen Construction to its BIG 50 list for 2001.
Craftsmen was designated as one of the professional remodeling industry’s top achievers in 2001. The award was received by Linda Brown and Ginger Rogers in front of industry peers on May 21st, during the 2001 REMODELING Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
The BIG 50 featured in REMODELING’s May issue, is a hall-of-fame type award for outstanding remodeling professionals. Every May, REMODELING inducts 50 new companies who have set the standard for professionalism and integrity through smart marketing, business management, unique design or industry or community impact.
300 to 350 companies are typically nominated for the award. The editorial staff of REMODELING must narrow the field by talking with a variety of people at the companies themselves, and often, to their competitors, clients, suppliers and subcontractors. BIG 50 contractors must meet industry standards of operating excellence, and have a proven track record.
BIG 50 remodelers run successful, growing companies of various sizes that have taken the lead in raising the standards of the industry. To date, nearly 1,000 remodelers in the United States have demonstrated such excellence and can boast being a member of the BIG 50.
Customer satisfaction is our number one priority. We are a highly motivated group of contractors whose focus is serving our customers. The result is a business driven by referrals and repeat customers. We want to streamline each project by walking our clients through the otherwise stressful remodeling process, providing them with the resources and guidelines to make their decisions as easy as possible. How do we accomplish this? We don’t assume anything and we …..
- Prepare accurate estimates and detailed contracts covering all contingencies.
- Prepare critical path schedules for each customer.
- Prepare highly detailed, schedule driven selections lists. These are specific checklists that include selection deadline dates, resource names, addresses, contacts, and every individual item that remains to be selected per room. (We have had very positive feedback from our customers on this).
- Prepare draw requests that are extremely specific (A.I.A. draw request document).
- Perform pre-completion walk-through with owners to establish final punch list for project closeout and receipt of final retainage.
Three reasons for success:
Customer Satisfaction – Craftsmen has maintained its high level of repeat and referral business by providing excellent service and product quality. We can accomplish this by only employing highly skilled craftsmen who are overseen by experienced project managers. Our motto “Don’t Assume Anything!” requires a proactive approach to the construction process. This, in turn, helps avoid the innumerable potential mistakes and man-hours wasted resultant from a less caring approach.
Financial Management – Craftsmen has employed the use of BuildSoft construction management software for years allowing us to track all areas of the business. We have also created several Excel –based management control programs that allow us to instantly see our current financial status. We constantly track critical issues such as Job Costs, Working Capital, our Current Ratio, Collections Period Ratio and Jobs in Progress Costs vs. Draws.
Technology – Craftsmen has earned its reputation as one of Charlotte’s premier remodeling contractors by staying at the forefront of modern technology. Beginning in the 1986 with our first PC, Craftsmen has advanced with the technology curve to incorporate state-of-the-art, fully networked workstations for our office staff. Project managers are equipped with PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) to track project activities, subcontractor contact information and personal time management. All employees are issued Nextel digital radios / mobile phones. We currently manage and maintain our own Web site which offers links to subcontractors and suppliers.
Before you can start remodeling your home, you have to line up the money to pay for the project. The amount of capital you have to spend should be determined before the design process begins. All too often a project is designed which exceeds the available budget. Then the entire project is either cancelled or must be totally redesigned. So, figure out the best way to finance your project and how much you are willing to spend before you start.
There are several ways to get the money for your project. The most common ways are:
Home improvement loans
Home equity lines of credit
Home equity loans or a second mortgage
Cash-out refinancing of your current mortgage
Cash from savings (still considered the easiest way to finance your project)
If you have cash in savings to pay for your home remodeling project, this may be the best way to finance your home improvements. But be sure to consider that by paying in cash, you tie up money that could be earning interest in other investments. In other words, you need to look at the interest rate that you would be charged by financing the project and compare this to the interest you could earn by investing these funds.
Also remember that interest payments on a home improvement loan may be tax-deductible, while you can't write off the expenses of a remodeling project paid for in cash. Crunch the numbers and meet with a financial advisor to determine whether paying in cash will really pay off in the long run.
Home Improvement Loan
Two special loans administered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) are the Title I and Section 203(k) programs. A Title I loan allows you to borrow up to $25,000 for improvements to a single-family home. These are fixed-rate loans that FHA insures against the risk of default. Loans must be made by an approved Title I lender.
The 203(k) program is not as well known, but if you are looking to purchase a fixer-upper, it is a terrific opportunity. It allows home owners to receive a single, long-term, fixed or adjustable rate loan that covers both the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property. To obtain a loan under the 203(k) program, you must use an FHA-approved lending institution. Most mortgage lenders are approved to make loans through this program.
Home Equity Line of Credit
A home equity line of credit is a form of revolving credit in which your home serves as collateral. This allows you to tap into these funds whenever you need it. The credit line is usually set at 75 to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home minus the balance of the first mortgage. Your credit history and ability to pay may also be considered in determining the amount of credit available.
Home equity lines of credit usually carry a variable interest rate that is figured by adding a margin to the current Prime Rate or some other index. Other costs associated with setting up a line of credit may also apply and will vary from lender to lender.
If you are not comfortable with the open-ended nature of a line of credit (which requires discipline to ensure that you don't go way over budget), a home equity loan, or second mortgage, may be right for you. This is a fixed-rate, fixed-term loan based on the equity in your house that is paid back in equal monthly installments over a specific period of time.
If interest rates today are significantly less than when you first purchased your house, refinancing your mortgage may be a wise move. This refinancing alternative allows you to use the accumulated equity in your home to take out a new loan to pay off your existing mortgage and then use the remaining funds for your remodeling project. Make sure you factor in the length of time you plan to live in the house and the number of years left on your current mortgage before you decide to refinance.
Keeping Your Budget in Line
Once you've decided how much you can afford to spend, the challenge becomes staying within this budget. So, how can you prevent your expenses from spiraling out of control.
Plan on spending only 80 percent of what you can afford. Put the additional 20 percent in reserve to cover any unforeseen problems, and/or desirable allowance upgrades.
If your budget is truly fixed, plan out your project so that you’ll be happy with the end product- in other words, take the time to consider all the details ahead of time so that change orders don’t cause you to exceed your budget. Remember that any major project changes will also have an effect on date of completion.
Most contracts will have allowances for fixtures and/or appliances that have not already been selected. Hopefully, these allowances will be realistic, but be careful. It is very easy to exceed your allowance budget when faced with the vast selection of choices that are available in today’s marketplace. Remember that a salesman will always share his bias towards top of the line equipment, and appliances and fixtures are the easiest things to upgrade after a project is completed.
Make your selections as quickly as possible, and make sure everybody involved gets the same correct selection information. This will help avoid major problems later in the project.
When you know how much you can spend on your next project, do not keep this a secret. It is important for the project designer and the remodeling contractor to know your budget. Only then will everyone be working to design and build your dream project while staying within your budget.
WATER! By far the most common answer is rain water leaking into your homes boxing. Once the trim woodwork gets wet from the inside of the boxing, the moisture tries to escape from the wood as it dries out. This escaping moisture literally pushes the paint off the wood. Aside from being ugly, peeling paint is a red flag for the bigger issue of rotting wood
Most people could look at a comparison of two pieces of wood and tell you which one was new wood and which piece was rotten. But these days, the paints we put on the exterior of our houses are so good that they can often mask the beginning signs of rotting wood for years. The strength with which they bond to older layers of paint and cover the wood so evenly can in some cases allow the paint to look almost new even when the wood behind it is rotten. There are a few important warning signs to consider.
Firstly, look in areas where you find joints in the wood. If you can see any unusual holes in the wood or black spots, this may be an indicator of rotten wood. These will also be the most likely places to spot the second indicator.
Flaking paint. It is important to pay attention to any and all flaking paint, but the type most indicative of damage is when large thick flakes form that go all the way down to bare wood. Exterior paint doesn’t typically last much longer than five years, and will crack and peel a bit as it nears time for another coat. So even if you can’t tell, a good painter would be able to easily determine if the peeling paint is a sign of something more serious
Lastly, if the gutters begin to sag or lean out away from the roof line of the house, it could mean that the wood has become so rotten that the fasteners can no longer bite into the wood behind the gutters. Even if this was the result of a fallen tree branch or heavy snow and ice, it’s important to fix them quickly to prevent water damage in other areas.
Once the problem is found, it’s a good idea to act fast. Depending on your experience and skill with DIY (do it yourself) projects around the home, you may decide it’s worth bringing in some professional help on this one. Keep in mind that regardless of the size of your house, this work will have to be done atop ladders and/or scaffolding which may add a good deal of unnecessary risk to the project for the DIYer. Also, remember that in order to re-use the gutter on the house, either a large section or the entire run will need to be carefully removed and protected while the work is being done. Another thing to consider is that the openings in the ends of the house have to stay covered to keep animals and birds from nesting in your warm dry attic before you have a chance to seal up the openings with new wood.
So how did this rain get in the boxing? Finding the answer is not always easy, but here are a few of the most likely candidates.
Water can travel down the slope of a roof from a singular place where a shingle is missing or cracked.
Another thing to consider is how long it has been since your roof was last replaced. The boxing on your house may just be the canary in the coal mine. By recognizing a problem in one location, you might be saved from some serious repairs throughout your home.
Water can travel down from a vent collar or some flashing that may be worn out or have been improperly installed.
Many times, the gutters are to blame. When gutters become backed up or clogged, they can force built up rainwater into contact with the boxing on your house (not to mention becoming a favorite breeding ground for mosquitoes). Gutters can also fail when the seams between sections pull apart after years of dramatic seasonal heating and cooling.
Remember, rotten boxing is always an indicator of another problem. Caught early enough, these repairs might be as simple as a new coat of paint but delay them just a short while and it might mean major reconstruction of your boxing. Either way, be sure that whoever you have working on the project is able to find and fix the root of the problem unless you want a repeat performance in just a few years.
Nobody is denying that in these tough economic times that it is a good idea not to spend frivolously, but the same way you wouldn’t skip an oil change in your car to save money, remember that regular maintenance and repairs are what keep your home running the way it should protecting you and your belongings.